The Patrick Morgan Foundation: What have we learned?

The Patrick Morgan Foundation: What have we learned?
1 March 2023 James O'Dowd
In Journal

On this day in 2020, we got an email from the Charity Commission that the Patrick Morgan Foundation was officially registered charity in England. We’d been working on it for months, and the team (only five at the time!) were looking forward to taking our work into schools, even if only virtually.

It’s been three years since then, and we’ve learned an incredible amount about careers education and what young people need to break through to the working world.

Young people don’t know what options they have when they finish school

Research shows that the patterns of jobs chosen by 7 year-olds mirror those selected by 17-year olds. How can young people choose the best careers for them if they don’t know what options they have? When we ran our first few sessions with Year 9 and 10 students, they were stunned at how many options were available to them in medicine, professional services, law, finance, and others.

Our session evolved into a Q&A with me about how I set up the Patrick Morgan business, what options I had and why I decided to be an entrepreneur, and what they can do to set themselves up for success.

Without this access to information, which you just don’t have access to if you grow up in a socioeconomically disadvantaged background, young people will not be empowered to make the decisions they deserve. Organisations like us can support, but there needs to be better infrastructure for more complete careers education, integrated into the curriculum.

Theory is fine, but nothing trumps real work experience

Some of our first few sessions were standard lessons: our team prepared materials, we went into schools or logged onto a VC and delivered a talk, with pretty presentations to match—which was effective, to some extent, but we realised very quickly we needed to give students the opportunity to be hands-on.

We ran a work experience programme with School 21 in East London later that year, and it was a roaring success. Students worked on a slide deck exploring different possible strategies for Patrick Morgan’s hiring efforts, presenting it to the whole team at the end. They were engaging and clever, and really took advantage of the research they did through the 12 weeks of our project.

Direct work experience for young people before they leave school and lock in a path forward is essential. The focus in the private sector on apprenticeships and paid internships is encouraging, but more investment is always needed in this area: young people’s perspectives are irreplaceable, and their professional development hinges on direct interaction with the working world.

Students who have had a mentor are 130% more likely to hold leadership positions later in their careers

As we head into our fourth year, we’re working with our partner schools to understand what their priorities are, and the overwhelming trend so far has been mentorship. It’s a vague term, which can encompass a lot, but it’s clear that young people need guidance—tailored guidance, specific to them, which will help them to understand their prospects for the future, make the right decisions for how to reach their professional goals, and more generally, develop personally. Teachers work tirelessly to offer this type of guidance to their students, but they can’t bear the responsibility alone: it’s down to businesses like us to support them.

I really look forward to setting up our mentorship programme: the Patrick Morgan team are fantastic teachers of hard skills, but they are also great counsellors, who can support young people in more than just career aspirations.

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